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Microsoft Messenger Architect On The Future Of IM 277

CowboyRobot writes "ACM Queue has an interview with Peter Ford, chief architect for MSN Messenger, by Eric Allman, CTO of Sendmail. They discuss the present and future states of IM, the current big players as industry shuffles toward standardization, some of the social implications of IM versus email or telephone, and technical issues such as using SIP as opposed to XMPP (Microsoft is pushing for SIP, everyone else seems to favor XMPP). They don't bring up Wallop, Microsoft's community application that will be built into Longhorn, but that's surely part of the long-term discussion."
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Microsoft Messenger Architect On The Future Of IM

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  • Trillian, VM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dolo666 ( 195584 ) * on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:22PM (#7574767) Journal
    Trillian [ceruleanstudios.com] works great for all my needs. IRC! Man that's where it's at. What bothers me, greatly I might add, is that while the majors like Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola are busy selling IM at whatever cost their last meeting brainfarted, it is highly probable that most non-nerd people think this is the way to go. They are 0wn3d by the marketspae'k, and it's trendy so hey, cool, they love it. And there's money in it for companies to gain money per character of text, or per 32byte-max transfer. (or is it 255? tee hee)

    The pundits of chargeable IM services socialize the use of the service, as a Freudian brainwash, by forming IM parties with other-sexy-trendy-phone-pundits, and I sit back wondering what the fuck is happening to the world; it should be all free, or at least the cost of hardware. It's obviously a ploy to put a price on a few bytes of data, and slap a carriage charge on top of it. Which is why I'm not at all surprised this Microsoft guy, PETER FORD (from the interview) is talking about IM. It seems that the fancier the names of the new protocols are, the more money it's going to cost. But it's mumbo-jumbo to the end user, who would gladly fork over the cash just to make it go away (and just work). That's what these pundits are counting on.

    One part of the article I found interesting was the design of voice mail. I agree. It would be better to build the message at the sender's location and *then* send it.
    • Re:Trillian, VM (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Try Gaim [sourceforge.net]

      Its not as polished as Trillian, but its OSS and cross platform, and thats whats important!
    • Re:Trillian, VM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:59PM (#7574922) Homepage
      Just adding to the Trillian fodder. There is a user-developed plug-in [iknow.ca] available to Trillian Pro users that will automatically forward messages to an available e-mail or SMS address when idle. Useful.

      Of course, I'm a Pro member for the Jabber support, but little bonuses like this make it worthwhile.
    • by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:12AM (#7574975) Homepage
      I would always use an opensource program instead of a proprietary one, if the two are functionally equivalent. Opensource is shitware proof (ad/spy-ware). The latest gaim works quite well under Windoze

      It's good, at least, that gaim/trillian developers collaborate in cracking proprietary protocols.

      • by los furtive ( 232491 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ehtomaLsirhC)> on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:39AM (#7575103) Homepage
        Although I see where you are coming from, Trillian has been very responsive to the community for a long time, has never had ad/spyware in any of their iterations (even the non-pro versions), and supports the Jabber protocol and IRC, as well as proprietary protocols. Plus they have an API so that you can write your own plugins.

        As long as the underlying protocols stay free and open (be it soap, irc, jabber or whatever) then if someone wants to write a closed source interface to it, that's their perogative, and of course they do so at their own risks. As great as it is to work as an (open) team, there is still something to be said for going it on your (closed) own.

        • Trillian has been very responsive to the community for a long time

          HAHAHAHAHHAA

          I've had bug reports in for locked dialogs and missing shortcut/default/cancel keys on them since somewhere around 0.60. The trillian "developers" are a joke.
        • Although I see where you are coming from, Trillian has been very responsive to the community for a long time, has never had ad/spyware in any of their iterations (even the non-pro versions), and supports the Jabber protocol and IRC, as well as proprietary protocols. Plus they have an API so that you can write your own plugins.

          Gaim is the most active project on Sourceforge, and you can write your own plugins in perl.

          Dunno, I just don't see any reason to really ever not use gaim.
      • SecureIM that's why (Score:3, Informative)

        by gad_zuki! ( 70830 )
        If you're happy with your IMs being sniffed left and right, feel free to use Gaim et al. My friends and I have migrated to Trillian as our main IM because it does all the major IM protocols, is feature rich, and lets us encrypt our IMs. Sure, its vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks then again so is ssh, ssl, etc but it sure beats plain-text.

        Gaim is feature poor and the developers refuse to interoperate with Trillian's secure protocol. The secure Gaim spin-off doesn't want to play with Trillian eithe
        • by Anonymous Coward
          1. There isn't a conspiracy to sniff you IM's
          2. Gaim already has encrypted IM plugin
          3. Trillian's SecureIM is a closed protocol, why should GAIM interact with something that could change at any moment?
        • Sure, its vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks then again so is ssh, ssl, etc

          Uh, yeah. Neither ssh or ssl are vulnerable to MITM attacks.

        • Osama? Is that you?

        • by GORby_ ( 101822 )
          If secure IM is your point the Gaim approach is more secure than trillian secureIM. Also check out JAJC (Just Another Jabber Client) which has PGP support, or Psi (or was it psy) which has GPG support. Good luck trying to be a man in the middle there (as long as you use a safe way to exchange the keys, same as for Gaim).

          Both are jabber clients, so you'll have to choose whether you find security or sticking to the current protocol the most important, but I like both of these clients (prefer jajc though, mor
    • WTF, precisely, is a Freudian brainwash?
  • Well, yeah, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neiffer ( 698776 ) * on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:22PM (#7574776) Homepage
    "Does that mean 10 years, five years, two years? I couldn't predict. Quite frankly, the thing that fights against it being quickly this time around is that the communities operating with these mutually incompatible protocols are quite large. If you look at AOL's cloud or the MSN cloud or the Yahoo cloud, you're talking about fairly large, significant systems. To have them migrate and interoperate with standard protocols will happen, but it is going to take time." This also assumes that AOL or MSN or Yahoo will cry uncle first. Who serious believes that any one of them will be the first to abandon their standard for an open standard when it could mean the end of their software? Remember, we are dealing with some *SERIOUS* egos here...
  • SIP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:22PM (#7574777) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft is pushing for SIP.

    IBM, which sells the #1 selling business IM solution (Lotus Instant Messaging), is using SIP.

    Apple is using SIP.

    So who are the "everyone else" who want XMPP?
    • Re:SIP (Score:3, Informative)

      by MoTec ( 23112 )
      Umm, how about:

      AIM
      Yahoo Chat
      ICQ

      ???
      Profit!!!
    • I thought Apple was using a combination of AOL's proprietary protocol (for the AIM side of iChat) and a proprietary system for the Rendevous side of iChat.

      Still, whatever the case, Ford gives a compelling case for chosing SIP and while the lack of IM standards on SIP might appear to be a problem, to me it looks like room to grow in an area which clearly isn't anywhere close to reaching its full potential. It does, unfortunately, make interoperability a problem though until IM over SIP is better standardiz

      • Apparently iChatAV is some kind of SIP variant. Some people were trying to get it to talk to IP phones, but could never get it quite right due to some irregularity in the way it opened ports (???). I totally agree with grandparent, the first thing I thought on reading (Microsoft is pushing for SIP, everyone else seems to favor XMPP) was *who* is this everyone else?

        As for the IM part of iChat, yeah, it's OSCAR, the AOL protocol, as far as I know. Nice product - the integration with the mailer is particul

    • IBM sponsor Jabber. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Trejkaz ( 615352 )
      For reference. [jabber.org]
    • Re:SIP (Score:5, Informative)

      by lordholm ( 649770 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @03:45AM (#7575758) Homepage
      Apple are using SIP for negotiating A/V communications establishment. They are using OSCAR for remote presence and messaging, and Jabber for local/rendezvous presence and messaging.

      So, they are using XMPP in the local messaging stuff, but SIP to negotiate the exchange of A/V streams. Which is really what the two protocols were designed for.

      The SIP pushed for by MS discussed is actually an extension called SIMPLE.

      If you want proof of iChat using XMPP, either install a packet sniffer on your network, or run "strings", "otool -tV" or the 3rd party "class-dump" utility on the executable for iChatAgent, and grep the output for "Jabber".
    • Re:SIP (Score:3, Insightful)

      by infiniti99 ( 219973 )
      So who are the "everyone else" who want XMPP?

      Well, XMPP is orders of magnitude more popular, or at least more visible, among small businesses and end-users. There are clients for every platform you can name, and quite a few server software offerings. Many of these projects are open source. Search around on the web and you'll find a great number of fun Jabber-related projects, such as the Jabber World Map [ralphm.net], or the multitude of mailing lists and user communities [affinix.com] dedicated to Jabber. Even Trillian and Gai
  • SIP over XMPP (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 )
    The biggest difference here is that Microsoft wants to use the simple input panel rather than the extensible one.

    While the architecture of XMPP allows for theoretically broader support of handwriting recognition systems, you rarely need more than two on any given system (your native language and English).

    I have a feeling Microsoft will win this small battle.
  • What's the difference between SIP and XMPP?
    • by Trejkaz ( 615352 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:10AM (#7574965) Homepage

      SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) has been around for a long time and AFAIK is a binary protocol. SIMPLE is built on top of SIP and provides the instant messaging functionality.

      XMPP is relatively new and is based on XML (hence why it's so extensible.) There are two parts, the core (which might as well be equivalent to SIP's core) and the IM extensions.

      The glaring practical difference is that there seem to be about zero open-source SIP servers, and about a dozen open-source XMPP servers (going off the list at JabberStudio [jabberstudio.org] which might not represent all of them.)

      • by Anonymous Coward
        SIP most certainly is a text based protocol, and even more certainly is extensible.

        SIP messages look like HTTP messages, but can be encased in either TCP or UDP packets. (Which means you can add new HTTP style headers, just as web browsers do)

        SIP is mostly used for carrying VoIP session information at the moment (as an SDP message body), but SIMPLE would work really great for carrying IM.
      • Both SIP and XMPP are XML based.

        There is an (apparently) open SIP implementation at www.vovida.org [vovida.org].

  • The interviewer says:

    Microsoft, Lotus, Sun, and Novell seem to have settled on SIP. Intel, H-P, Hitachi, Sony, and more or less the entire open source world is going toward XMPP, sometimes better known as Jabber.

    and the poster says:

    Microsoft is pushing for SIP, everyone else seems to favor XMPP.

    Yeah, it's fun to paint the world in black and white but this is just a blatant lie.
    • by muonzoo ( 106581 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @01:37AM (#7575278) Homepage
      The wireless world, especially people moving towards 3GPP are using SIP and SIMPLE (The SIP IM extensions). Microsoft, CISCO, Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Motorla etc are all using SIP/SIMPLE. Jabber has some traction in some areas, but SIMPLE has the massive advantage in that the VoIP infrastructure that uses SIP that many CLECs, Fortune 500 and more than a couple ILECs are deploying will work with SIMPLE too.

      This is too big a deal to ignore. SIP+SIMPLE will be a powerful platform and in many cases, already is.

      This isn't about Jabber vs. SIMPLE or Microsoft vs the world. SIP/SIMPLE is going to be able to leverage an amazing installed base of VoIP infractructure that Jabber will not have access to.
    • Microsoft, Lotus, Sun, and Novell seem to have settled on SIP. Intel, H-P, Hitachi, Sony, and more or less the entire open source world is going toward XMPP, sometimes better known as Jabber.

      If the author had done a bit more research, he would have found the follwing:

      Lotus (SameTime): Native protocol proprietary, with a SIP gateway.

      Sun: Native protocol proprietary, no gateways at all right now.

      Microsoft: MSN Messenger proprietary, new Exchange 2003 SIMPLE plus extensions.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:33PM (#7574828)
    Microsoft's community application that will be built into Longhorn

    So IM will be build into Windows, and Netmeeting, and this and that and whatnot. Isn't this getting slightly ridiculous to bundle everything in an OS ? I'm sure nobody wants *all* of that installed on their hard-drive, just as I wouldn't want to install all the packages that come with my Linux distro CD, but instead I want to choose what I install and nothing else, and save disk space.

    What's beyond me is why don't we hear a great number of people (regular users) complaining about this waste of disk space, and also why so few OS experts voice their concern about the fact that the OS/application boundary in Windows is so blurry it's frightening in terms of security and stability ...
    • simple.
      If it is in the OS, MS will say "it's part of the system" to try and avoind future monopoly abuse charges.
      And/Or they want to control everything that happens on a computers.

      really, no other reasons. It make no technical sense to bundle this crap into the OS.
      • Yes I realize that, my question is why there doesn't seem to be many voices against that bloat and insecurity trend in Windows : after all, it's not like it takes a computer genius to see that it's necessary to upgrade hard-disk (or entire machines, more likely) every 2 or 3 years, and purchase pricey antivirus software on top of the pricey Windows license, to compensate for the OS maker's own faults.

        I mean, the issue touches people's wallets, where it really hurts, why doesn't anybody say anything ?
        • by Zork the Almighty ( 599344 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:38AM (#7575096) Journal
          In general, people will put up with mediocrity as long as they think everyone else is in the same boat. A lot of people think it's perfectly normal for a worm to spread through email, and that there's "nothing anyone could do about it, except buy a virus scanner". Everyone hates pop-up ads too, but they put up with them. You can tell them there are free alternatives, and they can't be bothered - but you can bet when WinXP Service Pack 2 introduces pop-up blocking "everyone" will "need" to have it. People really are sheep.
        • Yes I realize that, my question is why there doesn't seem to be many voices against that bloat and insecurity trend in Windows [...]

          It's hardly a phenomenon unique to Windows.

          [...] after all, it's not like it takes a computer genius to see that it's necessary to upgrade hard-disk (or entire machines, more likely) every 2 or 3 years, [...]

          People aren't buying new hard disks to fit newer versions of Windows on, they're buying them to put the dozens of gigabytes of mp3s, warez and porn they're downloadin

          • Well, everytime MS bundles hot software on their platforms I get annoyed for one reason: it's use becomes compulsory. On OS X if, for some weird reason, I chose to not use iChat at all, thought that the software was crap, hated the icon, whatever, all I have to do is drag the app to the trashcan and that's it... no more iChat, I'm free. On Windows XP on the other hand, you're dragged to passport account creation everytime you login and there's no damn easy way of getting rid of the sw... only because some M
            • Well, everytime MS bundles hot software on their platforms I get annoyed for one reason: it's use becomes compulsory.

              If by compulsory you mean "I have to use it because I'm too stupid/ignorant/lazy/indifferent to use something else", then yes.

              If you're referring to the more traditional use of the word "compulsory", then bollocks.

              On OS X if, for some weird reason, I chose to not use iChat at all, thought that the software was crap, hated the icon, whatever, all I have to do is drag the app to the trashc

    • by jjhlk ( 678725 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:00AM (#7574927) Homepage
      Netmeeting is 2.5mb in its directory on my win2k machine. Oh my, what a horrible waste of space. IM, a browser, and a video player too? Microsoft provides a platform for largly ignorant people to browse the web, play movies, check their email, and play games. Would you rather those things not to come with the operating system, so these users have no idea how to do anything? It doesn't make sense to add alternatives, first for the bloat, second because you'd need to include so many Windows would be a 5 disc set - but mostly the bloat. Anyone can go find an alternative tool, and many of the things that come installed with windows can be removed (movie creation, all the clearly extra bulk).

      The OS/application boundary (if you mean DLLs) is a different thing.
    • Messaging built into the OS isn't exactly new... think syslog. The only addition is the ability for the messages to span (more easily?) outside the source maching.

      Presumably this means "bundled into the OS" the same way Internet Explorer is "bundled into the OS", that is, not. It just comes with the OS... pretty much like Messenger and NetMeeting already do.

    • At least MS only bloats the system with one IM app installed by default. Some Linux distributions install four or five.
    • The term OS is vague and can have all kinds of different scope. Windows is a runtime environment which provides services to the user and to third party apps. If you think of it like that then yes, it IS reasonable to have a web browser built in. Because then developers can feel free to deliver their help in html format, and rely on it being present!

      I don't know if IM will go the same way, but it might make sense for some apps to sort of integrate with it.

      Disk space? You're paying $100 for windows
    • by stubear ( 130454 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:37AM (#7575091)
      Netmeeting is no longer going to be a part of Windows [infoworld.com]. Windows and MSN Messenger are already performing much of what NetMeeting originally did. On a side note, does this mean Microsoft innovated with the IM clients? NetMeeting is a pretty old client app.
    • What's beyond me is why don't we hear a great number of people (regular users) complaining about this waste of disk space.

      With the lowliest entry-level Windows PCs offering P4s and 80 GB hard drives as standard, no one gives a damn about minor performance hits or O/S bloat.

    • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday November 27, 2003 @01:01AM (#7575185)
      So IM will be build into Windows, and Netmeeting, and this and that and whatnot. Isn't this getting slightly ridiculous to bundle everything in an OS ?

      For the market they're aiming at ? No, not at all. Remember, they're trying to sell a single, everything-you-need solution to normal people who just want to go out and buy a single thing to do it all.

      There are people out there who think adjustable seats, air conditioning and radios are worthless fluff in cars, as well. Fortunately they're in the minority and most manufacturers ignore them.

      I'm sure nobody wants *all* of that installed on their hard-drive, just as I wouldn't want to install all the packages that come with my Linux distro CD, but instead I want to choose what I install and nothing else, and save disk space.

      These people are few in number and generally not at all interested in Windows (or a similar product like OS X) anyway.

      What's beyond me is why don't we hear a great number of people (regular users) complaining about this waste of disk space [...]

      Because their last PC came standard with an 80G hard disk. 1.5G for Windows isn't even 2% of that (relative to common hard disk sizes, Windows XP isn't really any bigger than Windows 3.1). Disk space is dirt cheap - a few hundred megs here or there is pocket change.

      Personally, I've lost interest in the carefully chosen custom install - because I've now got so much disk space that the only really compelling reason for doing so has disappeared. Why should I care if an application wants to install to 100MB or 150MB when I've got 50G free on the machine and another half a terabyte sitting on a fileserver ?

      and also why so few OS experts voice their concern about the fact that the OS/application boundary in Windows is so blurry it's frightening in terms of security and stability ...

      The OS/application line has been blurry ever since the first machine that used a CLI shell instead of a bunch of flashing lights and switches rumbled into life. "Bundling" an IM client (or a web browser) is logically no different to bundling a text editor, or ping, or ftp, or any number of "core applications" that have been being "bundled" with operating systems for decades.

      Not to mention unix boxes have been shipping with an IM client for donkey's years - talk.

      "OS experts" aren't voicing their opinions because by and large they have grasped the concept that the thing academically defined as an "operating system" bears little resemblence to the thing commercially defined as an "operating system". The only commercial products that are even remotely similar to the academic definition of "operating system" are embedded OSes.

      • I'm sure nobody wants *all* of that installed on their hard-drive, just as I wouldn't want to install all the packages that come with my Linux distro CD, but instead I want to choose what I install and nothing else, and save disk space.

        These people are few in number and generally not at all interested in Windows (or a similar product like OS X) anyway.

        Mac OS X does actually allow you to install or not install what you want. Just click the Customize button and you can leave iChat or most anything else

      • Why should I care if an application wants to install to 100MB or 150MB when I've got 50G free on the machine and another half a terabyte sitting on a fileserver ?

        It isn't about disk space. It's about complexity and how it relates to security. If I'm not interested in using IM, why do I have to have it installed, with the extra security risks that comes with it?

        It's about who is in control of your computer. You (the owner) or someone else.

        "Bundling" an IM client (or a web browser) is logically no differ
    • What's beyond me is why don't we hear a great number of people (regular users) complaining about this waste of disk space...

      Most users use what came preinstalled on their computer from the factory, or if they ever do install/upgrade Windows, just click the pretty dialog boxes until the setup program is done. Windows XP does not even give you an option of what to install anymore. Previous versions did, but not XP. You have to go back after the install and manually (un)install OS applications in the contr

    • It's built-in because that's what their focus groups and useability surveys *tell them* that's what their customers want. They want a seamless, easy-to-use computing environment that is cohesive, ready-to-run, and doesn't require dicking about.

      You and I may enjoy choosing which packages we want, and what office-like suite we'll use, but my 50-year old mother doesn't care. She wants her PC to just work. She does really well at taking pics with her camera, plugging it in, emailing it, etc. She's a damned
    • A good reson for having lots of functionality in the base system is that when a technology is ubiquitous it becomes a platform that 3rd party ISVs can extend thereby adding value back to the system. Also, when you're looking at $1/GB it's not really much of a problem for most peoeple. If you the kind of person who worries about having an extra few hundred meg disk space, then you're problably the kind of person that knows how to reclaim it.
  • Real Improvements (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aneirin ( 701613 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:35PM (#7574833)
    IMs are fine and dandy but when are they going to work on improving video confrencing. Typing is tedious but strides haven't been made in free video confrencing software. Perhaps that should be part of their implementation of the next "IM" software. Afterall even the old Netmeeting has a chat window you can bring up.
    • I would also like to see leaps and bounds in video conferencing land. However, given the recent hoopla over regulating VoIP, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it. If/when it is made a viable channel for casual communication, the bells are going to flip out again. At that point, you could drop the 'free' from your free video conferencing.
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:36PM (#7574834) Homepage Journal
    I used ICQ for a while, then uninstalled it, multiple times had to uninstall YIM that got installed with Netscape before Mozilla really came into play, fought kids installing GG (polish IM) on classroom computers, generally did a lot to get rid of instant messengers from my life. Am I weird or what?
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:46PM (#7574865)
      generally did a lot to get rid of instant messengers from my life. Am I weird or what?

      No, you are not weird. It's a well-known fact that IM, even more than computer games, is a notorious productivity killer. So much so that many companies have started to firewall IM clients off and edict company rules forbidding the use of IM at the office.

      Now Windows will propose it by default in all standard installs, I bet that Microsoft decision will be very popular amongst IT personels : it's hard enough to discourage the use of third-party applications without having to deal with the Microsoft trojan-horsish IM client ...
      • It's a well-known fact that IM, even more than computer games, is a notorious productivity killer. So much so that many companies have started to firewall IM clients off and edict company rules forbidding the use of IM at the office.

        Yeah, email and web are probably even bigger productivity killers. Hell, they should just forbid internet access.

        Please. IM can be very useful. If people aren't going to be productive, they're not going to be productive. Take away everything in the room except their work

        • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:03AM (#7574937)
          Please. IM can be very useful. If people aren't going to be productive, they're not going to be productive.

          Hmm no, your logic is backward: there is a certain category of people who, IM or web or nothing at all, will do nothing. Those need to be fired. Another category is the people who do their work equally well and/or fast regardless of the shiny toys they have on their computer. Those need to be praise, they're not many. And the last category, the vast majority of workers, work well most of the time, but work even better without the distraction of IM, the web and whatever else.

          So yeah, in many cases, they should just forbid the internet. Most accountants don't need it to do accountancy, for example. Most secretaries don't either.
    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:15AM (#7574985) Homepage
      It can be useful when everyone is using it... Kind of like phones. Around the office, AIM was a good way to get a quick message across the building without having to spend the 5 minutes walking. "Could you check phone line 15 in the closet?" "It was loose, I switched the wires. Is it working?" "Yeah, working great. Thanks."

      As a communications medium, it combines the immediacy of cellular phones with the subtlety of e-mail. Likewise, you can copy/paste, a big bonus in many technical fields. Unfortunately, if not taken seriously this can lead to abuses and general slacking, but so could phones and e-mail if that sort of thing weren't frowned upon.

      Still, the holy grail is achieving a single unified standard that will allow all IM systems to interact. This is not a technical hurdle, but a financial one. Much like how the lack of inter-network text messaging killed SMS in the US, the messaging companies are all fighting hard to earn a piece of the surprisingly non-lucrative IM market. Apparently they are under the delusion that infinity times free equals a large sum of money for sufficiently large values of infinity.

      If everyone ran a Jabber client, it would quickly become as indispensable as e-mail.

      • Yes, IM can be extremely convenient, especially in case that i had to deal with. By the above i mean - having to coordinate workload between a number of technicians that are not necessarily in the office.
        So yes, my hat is off to IM... but:

        - For every thesis there is an antithesis.
        * IM is a source of spam
        * IM is a source of virii and worms
        * It can distract even the most ideal workaholic

        So lets face this - every invention or product no matter which industry it belongs to will always have an upside and the d
    • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Thursday November 27, 2003 @01:28AM (#7575261) Homepage Journal
      You're not weird. I see IM as a step backwards. The phone is an interruption. Email lets me deal with messages in a priority I decide. IM is an interruption.

      IM is one of those things you want other people to have so you can get hold of them at a moment's notice, but you don't like when it interrupts what you're doing. I'd say the next big thing in on-line communication will have more in common with phpBB than ICQ.

      • It's a tool in my toolbelt. I communicate with other developers using IM all the time. It really fits well between email and telephone.

        With email (like a letter) you compose with a certain number of questions, chekc your speelling for errors, and then to make sure you tone isn't "over the top". Sometimes you can hold the channel open too long (a long email), maybe even explaining what you don't need to because you don't get any sense of what the reader understands already. You might even repeat your m

      • I fear that the average tech person is as blind as you are.

        Pool messages, read when available, then let them queue up again.

        Eghads! You mean... taking responsibility and not being a slave to the device? Holy hell, what is this world coming to? Personal accountability?

        Nope, that's right out. Just blame the tools and not the people for using them in the way that best suits them.
        • Pool messages, read when available, then let them queue up again.
          This is better than email how?

          Come off it, email is an open standard, easy to manage and available for every device with an Internet connection. I can send email from my mobile phone. If all you're going to do with an IM is treat it like email, what's the point of moving away from a low-bandwidth open standard?

      • We're on a project with a combined on-/offshore team. IM is, without a doubt, a tool that we can't work without. It's a shame that the IT/Infrastructure dept. of the multibillion dollar company we're working, doesn't want to enable us to use webcams. Those would be a great addition, too.
  • by product byproduct ( 628318 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:38PM (#7574841)
    There are two doors. The door to your right leads to SIP, and the salvation of Redmond. The door to the left leads back to the matrix, to XMPP, and to the end of your species. As you adequately put, the problem is choice. But we already know what you're going to do, don't we? Already I can see the chain reaction, the chemical precursors that signal the onset of emotion, designed specifically to overwhelm logic, and reason. An emotion that is already blinding you from the simple, and obvious truth: XMPP is going to die, and there is nothing that you can do to stop it.
    • was about the Picturephone being a few years away.

      The problem I think is not the technology but the market. Remember that AT&T failed to GIVE those things away.
  • by zangdesign ( 462534 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:40PM (#7574847) Journal
    I do agree that you will see consolidation over time. You could probably argue that the e-mail experience that you and I and a lot of others lived through over the past 20 to 25 years is probably going to be repeated--perhaps more quickly than last time because the Internet makes that kind of evolution easier.

    We're gonna go through this spam thing again, aren't we? Man it's like living in Groundhog Day. On the other hand, this does give us a use for Bunker Buster bombs - instant localized retaliation against any spammer. And their families. And friends. And neighborhood.

    Which is as it should be.
    • "You could probably argue that the e-mail experience (...) is probably going to be repeated--perhaps more quickly than last time because the Internet makes that kind of evolution easier."

      Don't worry, IM spam won't last as long since, as you can see, the Internet makes the Internet faster!

      It's all so clear to me now! And here I thought the solution was broadband...
  • by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:47PM (#7574866) Homepage
    Protocols will become more proprietary, telco companies will continue to *squeeze* money out of consumers for sending text messages over networks which would otherwise be utilizing much more bandwidth for a normal voice call, and proprietary IM providers such as AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo will not collectively work toward a standard, because they have their hands too deep in consumers' pockets to see that it would benifit more people than just them to work together for a common good.

    No, I don't think the major IM players will settle on a standard. The best thing we can hope for is that the Jabber protocol catches on and we all have an open IM standard.

    That's most likely not going to happen, though, until the rest of the world catches on to the whole OSS movement. And at that point, there are going to be so much better things out there than text IM that people are working on together that it won't matter anyway.
  • I'm a bit unclear about the differences between SIP and XMPP and where Jabber, which could have been used as an interoperability standard, all fit together.

    At the high end, these all seem like simple namespace issues and would map onto Jabber nicely. An AIM user, for example, could be user@aim but the end user doesn't need to know that, they could just be presented with an icon representing AOL or something.

    The real issue is that there doesn't seem to be much in the way of motivation into making the IM

  • Er, k.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Okay, I'll admit that I didn't finish reading the interview, because to be quite frank, I don't see the need for an 8 page interview on instant messaging technology, nor do I have the patience to read one.

    Seriously, I'm not trolling, but am I the only one who is saying to himself, "it's just IM, what's the big deal." Maybe there is something massive to gain by pushing for one tech over another in this area, but come on, it's just IM. What's perhaps even sillier is the concept of someone being a chief arc
  • Control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nucleon500 ( 628631 ) <tcfelker@example.com> on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:53PM (#7574892) Homepage
    I'll tell you what I see for the future of instant messaging. There will be a bunch of companies trying to make one IM to rule them all, each with their own incompatible protocols and clients. IM is so low-bandwidth that it's practical to have one centralized server, which gives companies the ability to advertise and the ability to sneak software onto the computer via the client. Chances are Microsoft will win this battle in the long run (by bundling with Windows as they already do), though AIM won't be far behind. Secondarily, there will be a few free or adware clients trying to communicate with all protocols. This is somewhat good for users, but whoever has the greater market share will try to ban that client, because having a universal client makes it harder to lock in customers.

    Meanwhile, I plan to wash my hands of the whole mess and use Jabber [jabber.org]. Remember back when we had standards, and the internet was decentralized? It actually worked - there wasn't a single point of failure. When was the last time the entire email system went down? Jabber can offer the same reliability, and you don't aren't locked into a single server or client.

    Besides being decentralized, Jabber tries to offer gateways, and many Jabber clients (such as GAIM [sourceforge.net]) also play the "keep up with the proprietary protocol" game. So have the best of both worlds - get a Jabber account somewhere, and whenever your friends's servers lock out their clients of choice, convince them to get a Jabber account also.

  • by pardasaniman ( 585320 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:55PM (#7574909) Journal
    I read about wallop briefly.. and it it quite threatening to my linux desktop usage if it should succeed.. Being a social geek, I make friends, join groups. And odds are several will demand wallop for communications (Clubs at university, charitable organizations) if it is all it is supposed to be. Solution? I realize there are web-based deelys... but they really really smell... I could set up PHP-Nuke occasionally, but people will probably prefer wallop 10 years from now when longhorn becomes mature (by way of how many computers run it). Sortof like when MSN took over IM where I live... except this next time, one may not be able to create a linux client.
  • by astrashe ( 7452 ) * on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:55PM (#7574910) Journal
    That's a great story... I don't use IM or chat very often, so I haven't thought much about them. So a lot of what was said was fairly relevatory for me.

    The thing that interests me is the way that Ford talked about differences in accessibility (can people you don't know communicate with you?), and verifiability (do I know who you are?) in various systems, and how one system (say chat) might be used to allow rough and tumble anonymous communications with strangers, while another (IMing) might be limited to friends on a whitelist.

    Another characteristic that's particularly important to me is real time vs. instant response. I *hate* systems that interrupt me in real time, which is why I use email instead of IMs. I've pretty much stopped answering my phone, too, because I can, and now I depend on my machine to queue up calls, so I can deal with them when it makes sense to do so.

    The question that all of this raises, for me, is whether or not it's practical to have a comprehensive messaging service that will allow people to tweak all of these different parameters in combinations that they like. Is there any need for email and IMs to be distinct?

    Maybe we need a messaging "account" to be open, and another to be whitelisted, or one to be real time, and another to be queued -- but can't they be the same general sort of accounts, configured differently?

    (I'm not talking about trying to twist email itself into this shape... but about a new system that would cover much of the same ground.)
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Wednesday November 26, 2003 @11:59PM (#7574925)
    Will MS play nice with Friendster? Huminity? How about the half dozen other peer network systems setting up shop? Its not enough anymore to support people who inhabit only the MS network (or AOL, or Yahoo for that matter). The future will be in agnostic clients invited into, or hacking into whatever networks are in ascendency.

    In this sense I see even Jabber as a dead-end - give me GAIM and the other multinetwork clients anyday, and open up more peer networks to them as they are populated.

  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:00AM (#7574929)
    Microsoft Dream (2003) [acmqueue.com]
    End users are beginning to ask for it. They get jazzed about the idea of being able to start an IM session with somebody, then if that person goes offline at some point, the message being sent would be saved and retrieved at a later time.
    IBM Reality (1972) [faqs.org]
    You can also leave a message for wdd to receive when he logs on by typing: send 'message' user(wdd) logon.
  • when i read interviews with microsoft tech people, they always seem to come across as real technophiles, people concerned with the bits and bytes, if you will. somewhere along the way, it seems, marketing and finance must enter the coding cubicles and say something. it almost sorta reminds of the russian military. for every division (or whatever), there was a political officer. it seems there must be the equivalent in microsoft development departments. can't one of them just say no, we're going to do t
    • by bratmobile ( 550334 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:39AM (#7575102)
      I worked in NT Networking for several years, on the H.323 support (for voice and video conferencing) in Windows 2000, and also on SIP. I had the pleasure of working directly with Peter Ford.

      He's a first-rate architect. He's one of those people who understands more than just the protocols he's dealing with at the time -- he gets the reason those protocols came into existence, what drives them, who wants to use them, how they fit with othe protocols, etc.

      Peter has been pushing for SIP inside Microsoft for a long time. I was part of the design process for a couple of years, and it was a real pleasure to work with so many excellent engineers and thinkers. There is a real desire to make interoperable, public network products at Microsoft -- don't laugh, it's true. We spent YEARS making H.323 work (which is a public protocol -- anyone can implement it), but it didn't matter because, in the end, H.323 sucked. Even the Windows Messenger guys want to move to SIP, because it solves a lot of headaches for them.

      The best thing about SIP is that it is fairly decentralized. It's exactly as decentralized as DNS+SMTP. If you have a domain, you can publish your SIP service records, and you can handle your own communications any way you want to (similar to SMTP). This is in contrast to the way that all of the current IM protocols work -- extremely centralized, where all of your messages go to a server, that just re-sends them to the other person.

      I don't know anything about XMPP. If it's a good protocol -- awesome. But whether it's XMPP or SIP, or whatever -- it's gotta happen. Instant messaging (and other similar services) need to be decentralized, standard, and open. And for once, the people inside Microsoft agree, and are actively working on it.

      I just hope they can convince the upper management layer.
      :\
  • by Debian Troll's Best ( 678194 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:15AM (#7574988) Journal
    This story really reminds me of some work I did a few years back as a contractor in a large aerospace company. The problem they were facing at the time was a need to roll out an enterprise-wide messaging system (management was actually quite clued-up about the potential of IM to empower E2E (employee to employee) communication), but there was a very heterogeneous mix of clients. Management used Windows, the engineers used Solaris and Irix the software developers used Linux, and the system administrators ran the whole back end on OS/390. There seemed to be no real solution to the problem: how to bring an instant messaging system to all platforms, and preferably, one which was based around an open source platform. I could, however, see the solution where other's couldn't: apt-get.

    Basically, apt-get is a kick-ass system for making sure your Debian system is up to date, has the latest packages installed, and manages conflicts. At the core, what is an IM system about? Making sure your message 'packages' are up to date, has the latest messages 'installed', and manages conflicts, that is, a reply had been requested, yet hasn't been sent! All the key infrastructure was already in place, including an interface (dselect), which could easily be ported to all the required platforms to allow easy reading and sending of instant messages.

    The first step was to use apt-get itself to distribute a modified apt.sources file, which contained the IP addresses of all of the IM clients on the network. Some people had suggested DNS as a solution to this, but my feeling was that DNS wouldn't scale so well (this was a large LAN, with over 10,000 clients...I'd like to see DNS cope with that!!). Once each client had it's apt.sources file updated, you could basically send a 'message' (your ASCII message encapsulated into a .deb file by a custom packager I created that runs as a background process) to any host specified in the apt.sources file. To do this, I had to create a daemon-ized version of apt-get, listening on a predefined port. The daemon would be contacted by the apt-get client, would receive the .deb package containing the message, and then 'install' it to the dselect based client on the receiving system.

    Without trying to sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet, the system was a huge success, and the many features of apt-get for package management really came in handy for managing IM flows. For instance, just say you've just sent a message to a colleague via apt-get saying "Let's meet for lunch at 1pm":

    apt-get install host=fred-pc "Let's meet for lunch at 1pm"

    But then...you're called into an emergency meeting and you can't make lunch until 2pm. You need to 'upgrade' your message to the latest version:

    apt-get upgrade host=fred-pc "Make that 2pm!"

    Easy! The whole project was essentially wrapped up in 6 months, and because of the open-source nature of apt-get, we'd managed to port to all of the platforms in our specification. If Microsoft can swallow their pride a little, I think they could really learn something from the power of apt-get!

  • Where is IRC? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ciurana ( 2603 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:26AM (#7575042) Homepage Journal
    There was, in my opinion, a glaring omission in this article: no mention of IRC. I find this interesting because there is no reason why IRC shouldn't be adopted as the protocol of choice for text instant messaging. It's more stable than all the others. It interoperates nicely. There are IRC servers running on all kinds of operating systems. Endless clients.

    How many millions of people use IRC? Why not adopt it as a mainstream system? I was surprised that the interviewer, being from Sendmail, so glaringly ignored throwing this into the mix. IRC can do everything instant messaging can, and then some.

    Both the Mr. Ford and the interviewer failed in their mission: the former may not be much of an architect if he's willing to overlook this, and the latter should've asked more incisive questions.

    Cheers,

    Eugene
    • They talk about 'chat' systems in general, and how it's not the same as IM. It's left as an exercise for the reader to pull out the quotes to slap parent poster down.

      P.S. Did you actually read all 8 pages of the indepth interview?

      • Do not RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @03:57AM (#7575792) Homepage Journal
        Don't waste yout time on RTFA. It's a pure journalism and there is no any engineering value in it. You cannot learn anything technical from the interview - none.

        There is no technical comparison of SIP vs XMPP. From indepth one I would expect to see why features of SIP are better or worse than features of XMPP. They don't even list features to compare.

        Also, they talk about XMPP and ignore Jabber user community, which has recently overgrown ICQ community by amount of users.

        They talk about interoperability IM-gateway in a future tense, whil most of Jabber users already use interoperability today. For example, my Jabber client doesn't communicate directly to my ICQ or AIM buddies - it does it through the Jabber server instead.

        I don't wonder they don't talk about personal/SOHO Jabber servers, which some percentage of Jabber users connect to, instead of direct connecting to public server, in a process to communicating with the rest of the world. Of course, Microsoft prefers everyone will connect directly to MSN - they don't like people building communities out of their control.

        And, yes, IRC is missed. I don't like some features of IRC protocol personally too, but the fact is that IRC is here for many years, has a community, applications, and still good concepts.

        Well, what do you expect from the guy, who works for Microsoft (the company responsible for so many viruses due to poor architectural design of their products) and Sendmail (the company responsible for so many spam due to poor architectural design of their main product)?

        I am so disappointed that I wasted my time on RTFA.

    • Even though I love IRC myself, it wouldn't be much of a IM service for everyone. There are several problems with IRC as an IM. There have been attempt to fix some of the problems with different methods like bots, and serverside modifications.

      One of the problems are authentication. IRC servers don't give any guaranties by default that a person is what he claims to be. Some time we could count on the hostmask, but that isn't very good when there are large ISPs where many users would have a hostmask that woul

  • by Trejkaz ( 615352 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @12:33AM (#7575079) Homepage

    If you're going to draw parallels to email, as so many have done with these discussions in the past, you have to consider right now... how much of the world's mail infrastructure is handled by the 'open standard', SMTP, and how much of it is handled by Exchange?

    Exchange may be quite popular with corporations, but outside the corporation the servers tend to be a little more standard. You might see a mail going via Exchange all the way to the boundaries of the company's network, then via SMTP to another company, and back to Exchange again.

    It would be interesting to see this same phenomenon emerge here. It isn't a stretch because Jabber to SIMPLE gateways have been done already, companies such as Altova supporting both in their servers.

  • Wait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @02:29AM (#7575524) Journal
    Why is a guy who has a goddamn CODING STYLE named after him INTERVIEWING a guy who "architected" a ripoff of TWO successful p2p-chat protocols?

    Did I miss an edit in the force, or what?
  • by nalfeshnee ( 263742 ) on Thursday November 27, 2003 @09:51AM (#7576783) Homepage
    The interview was pretty useless for Slashdot: the technologies should be clear to anyone with five minutes to research SIP or XMPP. I'd have been far more interested in the features side of things. THAT's the thing which interests most people. It's also pretty obvious that Allman -- for all his matchless credentials -- doesn't actually use IM.

    For example: without altering my firewall config, I get far far better cam performance with MSN than I do with Yahoo. Interesting point, if one is talking about Microsoft's protocols. (And yes, I *do* use cam for exactly what you are suspecting.)

    Secondly, what the fuck is this point ahout?:

    EA The ability to queue messages, of course, is one of the great things about e-mail. You don't have to be there right now to read it. Do you see any kind of queuing happening in IM along the lines of "Gee, when I log in next, I'll see any messages that came in for me in the meantime"?


    PF A lot of us call that the offline messaging scenario. Offline basically says you're not available. Where does the instant message go if you are offline? You could either queue in an intermediary node or you could actually queue at the source. Typically, SIP, as it's designed today, is pretty much an end-to-end protocol.


    Yahoo has queued messages for years, it's one of the things which I love about Yahoo.

    MSN is all about re-doing windows in a messenger: same crap all over again, with an improved NetMeeting (which as I said, really has very good video performance).

    AOL is in my opinion just an add-on, for years rubbish and not much better now. It's just an extension to the AOL 'portal environment' and in its own way a logical extension of the same. OK, but not breathtaking.

    ICQ and Yahoo though, are very very different: they build real communities, and are NOT JUST ABOUT IM.

    Yahoo for one -- and yeah I just love this IM -- is just bursting with features, like IMvironments, Archived messages, Queueing, had Cam *way* before other clients even considered it, and has a thriving chat-mode which makes conferencing in NetMeeting look like something out of the Stone Age.

    Whyowhy doesn't Yahoo *advertise* it's own brilliance? It has so much good stuff, and it behaves like Apple. Invent gobsmackingly cool apps, and then halfheartedly advertise them. And all the while Microsoft papers the planet with adverts which announce a 'brand! new! chat! system!' for windows.

    Great.

    Nalfy

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